When you are battling cancer it’s important to use the most effective therapy against your tumor(s). Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells and shrink your tumors. Radiation damages cells making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide. Although radiation does damage cancer and normal cells, most normal cells can recover from the effects of radiation and function properly. The goal is to damage as many of your cancer cells as possible and limit harm to your healthy tissue.
Depending on your situation, the goal of radiation treatment is the complete destruction of an entire tumor. Or your doctor could aim to shrink a tumor and relieve your symptoms. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. In some cases, you may receive more than one type of radiation therapy.
Doses depend on the type of cancer you are diagnosed with and whether there are tissues and organs nearby that may be damaged by radiation.
Prophylactic radiation therapy is a term you may hear your doctor mention. This is radiation that may be given to areas that do not have evidence of cancer. This is done to prevent cancer cells from growing in the area receiving the radiation.
Palliative radiation therapy also may be given to help reduce symptoms such as pain from cancer that has spread to the bones or other parts of the body.